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Carbonara with Pancetta: Go To Weeknight Meal

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Carbonara is an awesome meal for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking and when you’re out of groceries. Bon Appétit says that it’s the perfect “no food in the house” dinner, and I completely agree.

So what is Carbonara?

Carbonara is an egg-based sauce that becomes silky smooth as it cooks from the residual heat of the pasta. If you add the sauce to the sauté pan the egg yolks will cook too quickly and you run the risk of curdling. So, to prevent this from happening, add the sauce to the hot pasta in the serving dish and toss well to combine.

Protein

Carbonara has many styles, but all of them (at least that I know of) use a pork product of a sort as the crispy protein. You can use cubed bacon, pancetta (aka guanciale), Porcetta, and more! Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more “vegetarian” friendly substitute, consider some crispy small diced sweet potato, roasted to slightly crunchy and seasoned with black pepper and salt.

Eggs

The other essential ingredient(perhaps the most?) are eggs and egg yolks. The richness of the yolks gives this pasta its signature golden color, but also the silky mouthfeel. Some will make this pasta with solely egg yolks — for me that’s a little too rich, but I realize I may be of a minority with that opinion.

Cheese

The key to carbonara is hard cheese. This dish can have Pecorino, Parmesan, or a 50/50 blend of both.

However, if you are someone whose kids only eat white cheddar – throw some shredded stuff in there instead. Is it classic Carbonara? No. Will it still taste creamy and rich? Yes. I still highly recommend you stay with the hard cheese family (easy to find at the store, just pick it up and if it’s rock solid, you’re good. If it’s squishy or crumbly, try again) if you can. Parmesan is a staple ingredient in my fridge and I recommend it as a staple for you too!

Raw Eggs on the Cooked Pasta?

If that makes you nervous, or your cooking for someone with a low immune system, use pasteurized eggs. Another alternative is, turn off the heat and remove your saute pan after cooking the pasta for the final two minutes ( step 6), before putting in a serving bowl, add in the egg mixture and toss around in the hot saute pan. Be sure to constantly scrape the bottom of your saute pan though, otherwise your eggs will begin to curdle a bit.

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Carbonara with Pancetta

Add this Carbonara to your weeknight staples! Easily made with most ingredients you already have on hand. You also use Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan, or use a 50/50 blend. This pasta is also excellent with crispy bacon as a substitute for the Pancetta. 

  • Author: thesommchef
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 23 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale

8oz (1/2 box) of Spaghetti or Bucatini Pasta

2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature

2/3 packed cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

46oz Pancetta, cubed

Instructions

1. Get a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.

2. While waiting, mix together the eggs, yolks, cheese, salt and pepper.

3. Sauté Pancetta to get it nice and crispy.

4. If pasta isn’t ready to be added when Pancetta is crispy, remove pancetta from the sauté pan and set aside.

5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente (or just before this — you’ll continue to cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes in the sauce after this).

6. Once pasta is al dente, reserve 1 Cup of pasta water, and strain pasta. Add pasta to sauté pan with Pancetta and add half of the pasta water. Cook for 2 minutes. Pasta should soak up most of the water.

7. Pour pasta and pancetta into serving bowl and pour egg mixture on top right away. Using tongs, coat all the noodles with the sauce. If looking a bit dry, add some more of the hot pasta water.

8. Grate more cheese and black pepper on top and serve.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4oz Pasta + Toppings
  • Calories: 600

Keywords: Pasta, Quick, Easy, Main Course, Dinner, Spaghetti, Simple,

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Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.




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